Injury-stricken Australia secured a thrilling two-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first ODI through an entertaining half-century by Glenn Maxwell.
Maxwell, batting at number seven, saved the Australian innings when he went 5-189 for 93 runs in 84 deliveries. The Victorians were unbeaten on 80 off 51 balls with six fours and six sixes.
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Australia needed 12 runs in the last two overs and Maxwell secured the victory with nine balls to spare, hitting the hostile Chamera sixes in the back.
The Sri Lankan spinners were on the money, especially leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, who picked up four wickets, but Maxwell bowled, clearing the boundary without any problems. His excellent run in the wicket put pressure on the Sri Lankan fielders. With him pulling the rampage and arbitrarily reverse sweeping, the bowlers got under pressure and started making mistakes with their length.
Maxwell became involved in two important pairings to see Australia line up with the lower order. He leg-outed Chamika Karunaratne for 10 before the wicket but successfully reversed the decision after review. Since then, he has not been stopped as he hits the opposite for four in his 23rd ODI half-century.
Australia has been slow due to injury. Mitchell Marsh (calf) and Mitchell Stark (finger) are not available for selection due to injuries while Ken Richardson (hamstring) and Shaun Abbott (finger) are back in the country. The win will inspire visitors in the hope that Stark and Marsh will be available for the Colombo leg of the ODI series.
When Sri Lanka set a target of 301, they were the favorites to win as no team at the venue chased so much. However, Australia’s target was revised after the rain stopped. Nothing seems impossible in the mood that Maxwell was in.
Three half-centuries enabled Sri Lanka to touch a total of 300. Openers Pathum Nisanka (56) and Danushka Gunathilaka (55) added 115 runs for the first wicket before being dismissed in quick succession.
Kusal Mendis then smashed an unbeaten 6-run innings that came with eight fours and a six in that delivery. They lost three wickets for 19 runs as Australia struggled but a 77-run stand between Mendis and Charith Asalaka (37) helped them out of the recession.
“Our bowling was not good because we bowled a lot of short balls and flowers,” said Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka. “They have batted well and their batsmen have done well. They read the situation well. Our best efforts. I picked up 300 on the board and I thought it was a winning score. But then our bowling was bad today. We have to sit down, look at our tactics and bounce back in the next match. “
Australia captain Aaron Finch said Maxwell’s knock was “extraordinary”.
“He was very smart and took some risk. “Even though we formed a decent partnership, we always played catch-up because we kept losing wickets,” said Finch. “Then Maxwell brought us back into the game. Steve Smith also batted well. It’s great to start the series with a win. “
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